Hidden away on a small street in West Palm Beach is the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens. If the name sounds familiar it’s because her husband, Ralph Norton, founded the Norton Museum of Art. She initially came to Florida to teach art and met Norton at his Art School. The Museum was their home during their marriage. The Norton House is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is located at 253 Barcelona Road in West Palm Beach. It’s right on the Intracoastal with a distant view of Mar-a-Lago across the waterway. There is no parking lot. One just parks on the street. The Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens is a remarkable place to visit with two plus acres of gardens and indoor and outdoor sculptures.
Who knew? My own Ann was there originally 15 or 16 years ago but just recently escorted visitors from Connecticut there and was blown away by the current exhibition. So of course she was determined to take me as well as very dear friends, Art and Sydelle, who we met on our first Caribbean cruise 17 years ago. We had lunch and drove there last weekend.
Presently there are two special exhibits in addition to the omnipresent Ann Norton sculpture pieces: The Lost Bird Project, black bronze sculptures of extinct birds by Todd McGrain, objects of art which are meant to be touched, stroked, and the birds remembered. They range from small sculptures to massive ones for the outdoors. The other special exhibit is the unforgettable ‘Rising’ The Mystical World of Sophie Ryder, consisting of “Hares and Minotaurs, strange amorphous figures fashioned in wire and bronze, some with human attributes are characters beyond human form.” These are large outdoor pieces, many of which needed cranes to be put in place. It is spectacular to walk among them, as are some of Ann Norton’s own works, permanently on display.
It’s one of those places that many locals are not even aware exists, but definitely should be visited.